Later-In-Life Pregnancy: What You Need to Know
Many women are putting more time into education or establishing their careers, which means the average age for starting a family is going up.
If you fall in this category and are considering starting a family, Regina Rae Whitfield-Kekessi MD, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Group Health – Clifton, explains what this means for you and your baby.
Advanced Maternal Age: What Does it Mean for My Baby?
"Women who are 35 or older are considered to be advanced maternal age,” Dr. Whitfield-Kekessi explains. This means you have increased chances for having a child born with genetic abnormalities, including:
This increased risk is found in all women who are 35 or older, regardless of race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status. Also, your risk increases as you age.
Advanced Maternal Age: What Does it Mean for Me?
Women with routine pregnancies are typically monitored at the following intervals:
- Every four weeks, until about 28 weeks
- Every two weeks, until about 35 or 36 weeks
- Weekly, until they deliver
On the other hand, if you are advanced maternal age, you may be monitored more frequently as you progress in the pregnancy. “Starting at 32 weeks, we begin monitoring patients at least weekly, with the evaluation of the fluid around the baby and a non-stress test; however, the recommendations are at the discretion of your obstetrician,” Dr. Whitfield-Kekessi explains.
What Complications Could I Experience?
If you are in good health, you are not likely to experience complications; however, you're still at a higher risk for:
- Preeclampsia, also known as hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Gestational diabetes (diabetes that starts during pregnancy)
- Delivering your baby early
- Your baby being born small.
Dr. Whitfield-Kekessi also points out that, regardless of age, first-time moms are at an increased risk for developing hypertension.